For many, the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” evoke visions of snowmen and bright, red sleds, but for most of Missouri a white Christmas is usually a wish unfulfilled.


For many, the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” evoke visions of snowmen and bright, red sleds, but for most of Missouri a white Christmas is usually a wish unfulfilled.
“Climatology indicates there’s about a 30 percent chance of a white Christmas across the northern border counties. It’s about a 20 to 25 percent chance in mid-Missouri,” said Pat Guinan, climatologist for University of Missouri Extension’s commercial agriculture program. In Missouri’s southern border counties it’s only about a 10 percent chance, or about once every 10 years, Guinan said.
There's no guarantee that snow developing in the upper atmosphere will make its way down to the ground.
“You have to have the right conditions for crystal formation in the vertical profile so that snow can develop above us and then for that snow to persevere to the ground,” he said.
Precipitation can change as it moves through the atmosphere.
“You might have snow 10,000-15,000 feet above you, but as it falls through the profile it can change over to sleet, freezing rain or all rain, depending on the surface conditions,” Guinan said.
If you want a white Christmas every year, you need to live somewhere other than Missouri. “The far northeastern states up in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have a high likelihood of snow for Christmas,” Guinan said.
The upper Midwest, northern Plains, the mountain West and Alaska can usually count on snow too, he said.
What’s the snow outlook for Christmas this year? This is Missouri, where weather can change in an instant, so you’ll have to wait until Christmas morning to find out if Dec. 25 will be white or brown.
Debbie Johnson is a writer with the University of Missouri Extension.